Examples of ad hoc
Examples of ad hoc
Where does ad hoc come from?
English borrowed the Latin ad hoc as early as the 1600s, when the learned expression was quickly being adopted into legal and judicial contexts.
Ad hoc spreads as a term in such contexts in the 1800s. A Lousiana Code of Practice for civil law from 1839, for example, lists the various situations where a person, such as a minor, may be assigned a curator ad hoc, a “caretaker for this purpose.” An 1869 judicial report from the state of New York, as another instance, describes the formation of ad hoc committees by the courts to investigate specific matters.
Around the same time, ad hoc was spreading to other domains. The phrase ad hoc hypothesis began to appear in scientific writing. An ad hoc hypothesis is basically a scientific excuse, a logical fallacy. It’s when someone makes up a new complication to brush off evidence against their claim—like if you said there’s a little green alien following you around, and when everyone asked where it was, you said you only you could see it.
Of course not all ad hoc hypotheses are otherworldly. An 1894 article on color perception points out how two of the common theories of the time relied on an extra, unproven ad hoc hypothesis about the vibration of light waves. Today, there’s even a festival dedicated to ad hoc hypotheses, where scientists can blow off steam by making stuff up.
In 1970, Alvin Toffler, the author of Future Shock, proposed that ad hoc organzations had some distinct benefits. Playing on political terms like democracy, Toffler proposed adhocracy (a slightly earlier coinage, from 1966) as a flexible organizational structure that could replace bureaucracy. Six years later, adhocracy was discussed in a business book aimed at administrators. An entire book on the subject followed in 1990, and the topic has since come up in the popular business in 2015.
In computing, an ad hoc network is a network of computers temporarily connected directly to other computers without a router or hub. Ad hoc networks were discussed in a communications journal in 1994, and there is currently an entire journal dedicated to the topic.
Who uses ad hoc?
You’re often going to see ad hoc describing government committees and judges, which are called for special, express purposes. Most often you’ll see it preceding what it modifies, e.g., an ad hoc judge, but especially in legal settings, following it: judges ad hoc.
Nakuru County Governor Lee Kinyanjui appearing before Senate Ad-hoc Committee investigating the #SolaiDam tragedy engage our senior Parliament reporter @edkabasa for more updates ^MK pic.twitter.com/rM1WylPlwx
— KBC Channel1 News (@KBCChannel1) July 18, 2018
You’ll also see ad hoc in everyday settings, like an ad hoc train stop (unscheduled), an ad hoc job (working as needed), or an ad hoc movie set (improvised).
Any Manchester based freelance web designers out there? Get in touch with @bamboo_mcr if you’re looking for some ad hoc project work 💻
— Freelance Folk (@FreelanceFolk) July 17, 2018
Ad hoc can be used to criticize an organization or event for being a little too loose or improvisational, though. The criticism is that it’s unstructured and wasn’t thought out.
But some things are better off ad hoc. That might explain why Ad Hoc was chosen as the name of a music magazine and event planning group, a record label, a kitchen goods brand, and a restaurant where the menu is different every day. Ad Hoc is also the name of a company that makes software for the US government, playing on the idea of an ad hoc committee.